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Study Shows Selecting Who Receives Liver Transplant Improving

By November 26, 2008

Have you ever wondered how someone gets chosen to receive a donor liver for transplant? Certainly, there are more people who need a liver transplant than there are available donated organs, so how does the system that determines who gets the next donated liver work? Is it purely by chance? Is it by how long someone is on the waiting list?

These are important questions and especially so to someone who needs a liver transplant. This will be a relief to those who are desperately waiting for a transplant: The system is improving! According to a study published today in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the system in use since 2002 no longer associates getting a liver transplant, or dying while waiting for one, with the color of your skin.

Of course this means that before 2002, disparities unfortunately existed. Before 2002, people were chosen based on how long they waited "on the list" combined with how sick they were. This unfair system allowed for too much ambiguity and obviously benefited those with the resources to endure the longest. After 2002, a new system was created using what's called a MELD score. The Model of End-Stage Liver Disease score uses the results of three laboratory tests to predict the risk of death within three months. A person with the highest score gets priority. The JAMA study shows that the MELD score is a significant improvement over the past way (though male/female disparities still remain). For more information read the complete study.

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